Iran beats Hong Kong 3-1 to revive World Cup campaign

The five-time World Cup finalist struck twice in the second half of its Group C game in Muharraq, Bahrain, to take its tally to nine points from five matches, two behind leaders Iraq.

Football

The competition began in 2019 but the Covid-19 pandemic left the schedule in disarray before it resumed last week. (Representative Image)   -  Getty Images

Iran bounced back from two straight defeats to put its 2022 World Cup qualification campaign back on track with a 3-1 win over Hong Kong on Thursday.

The five-time World Cup finalist struck twice in the second half of its Group C game in Muharraq, Bahrain, to take its tally to nine points from five matches, two behind leaders Iraq.

Iran had beaten Hong Kong 2-0 in its opening match in September 2019 before thrashing Cambodia 14-0 but suffered shock back-to-back defeats against Iraq and Bahrain, leaving the team with little scope for error in its remaining matches.

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Midfielder Ali Gholizadeh put Iran ahead from an acute angle after dribbling his way into the box in the 23rd minute before Vahid Amiri and Karim Ansarifard scored in the second half to give them a 3-0 cushion.

An 85th minute goal by Cheng Siu Kwang came as little consolation for Hong Kong for whom it was its third defeat in six matches in a format where only the group winners are guaranteed progress to the next round.

Meanwhile, In Group E, Bangladesh and Afghanistan played out a 1-1 draw in Doha that dented both teams' chances of making the cut.

The competition began in 2019 but the Covid-19 pandemic left the schedule in disarray before it resumed last week when Japan confirmed its spot in the third round by thrashing minnows Myanmar.

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